Captain Marvel Adventures No. 151 Cover by Kurt Schaffenberger

September 2, 2023|In Comics, DC

Anyone who visits this site knows I’m a lifelong reader of DC Comics. But that doesn’t mean I’m a fan of everything they’ve done. There have been a lot of great books, but there has been some pretty cutthroat and nasty business in their almost 100 years.

I started reading comics in the early 1970s, and by coincidence DC had picked up the rights to do new Captain Marvel stories. That seemed pretty good to young me. I liked the fun and light art style and well-crafted stories (especially the reprints of the original Fawcett stories that were in the comics and tabloids).

About 20 years earlier, though, DC went to court to destroy Fawcett’s successful Captain Marvel Family comics. Since the 1940s, Captain Marvel had been the most popular superhero, outselling Superman and all the rest.

DC didn’t like that, and their lawyers claimed that Captain Marvel violated DC’s Superman copyright by being a knockoff. To a comic reader, Superman came from Krypton and gained powers on a planet alien to him and Captain Marvel was a boy who turns into a superhero via a wizard’s magic. But to the courts in 1953, one superhero was the same as another and they won their case, killing the Captain Marvel line.

Now, there are many people who will become cold, stony and unsympathetic when you relate a story like this, responding that’s the way business goes. I disagree. Why must the competition be cutthroat and ruthless? Why must we destroy others to feel like we’ve won? True, DC felt they had ensured their survival in the face of their competition, but it does not need to be that way.

So in 1972 seven-year-old me was happy to get a comic called Shazam!. The me of today sees the historical perspective. DC had badly damaged a company and the people it employed. By then coming along two decades later to exploit the remains was certainly a cynical ploy. That DC has never really gotten what the Captain Marvel Family was all about is the proof that they never should have had access to the characters to begin with.

This piece was done by former Fawcett artist Kurt Schaffenberger for Bill Wilson who had started up The Collector fanzine. I thought it would make a great cover for Fawcett’s Captain Marvel.

Colour and packaging by me.

Captain Marvel illustration by Kurt Schaffenberger

Original art scan.

Comic book production art by Scott Dutton

Art made production ready.

Comic book colouring by Scott Dutton

Colour version.

Comic book design and packaging by Scott Dutton

Re-created trade dress added.